Interview: Rob Scullion of Cambrian Tyres/Continental

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Rob Scullion is one of those people who, if you’ve been to a mountain bike race in the last decade, you will most probably have seen or chatted to. He’s a friendly chap which makes him very good at his job; spear-heading the Continental Tyres brand in Britain through Cambrian Tyres, the importer for Continental.
Rob Scullion. Photo © Laurence Crossman-Emms
Rob Scullion.
Photo © Laurence Crossman-Emms

We took a jolly trip out to the Continental factory in Germany last week accompanied by Rob who regularly liases with the brand and often takes journalists and dealers on tours of the company’s premises to display just how much work goes into the making of a tyre. We’ll be featuring more about them and their tyres next week, but for now enjoy a few words with Rob and learn how to get that elusive bike industry job…

BM: Name, age, where do you live?

RS: Rob Scullion, 28, near Macclesfield.

Where did you grow up?

Aberystwyth, Mid Wales. Awesome riding to be had if you know where to look!

Have you always been into bikes? Where did that interest come from?

Always loved riding bikes, used to love watching Tour de France when I was a kid. I didn’t really get in to them properly until I was about 13/14, ended up drifting in to it due to my group of mates in school riding loads. I used to play a lot of football!

Is bike riding in the family gene?

My aunt has always been heavily involved in the bike industry, so always used to look up to her work and her racing (on a rigid with canti brakes!). My brother Pete is massively in to it (he works at Orange Mountain Bikes), I don’t know many people who ride as much as he does.

What style of riding do you do? How has that changed throughout your time on a bike and how do you think it reflects on the general MTB riding trends?

I used to be really snobby about pigeon holing my riding style; I have raced downhill for a long time and used to think anything other than that was rubbish. But as you get older responsibilities take over a bit and it eats in to your riding time. Now I’m happy to get out on any bike, I love going for a blast in the hills on my road bike, or heading down to the local pump track for a few laps. If you are out with mates riding it doesn’t really matter what bike you’re on!

I now like to race a bit of gravity enduro, it seems to be the best way to combine my competitiveness, riding with mates and having a laugh. I have fallen in to it in the last few years so I guess it follows the industry trend a little. A lot of it has to do with what you can do on trail bikes now; my Orange Alpine 160 is longer and slacker than my DH race bike from 10 years ago… I’m riding the same trails, but riding to the top rather than uplifting and not really going any slower on the downs.

THE JOB Job title

Northern Sales Manager at Cambrian Tyres

How did you come to be doing your job? How long have you been in that position? 

I had started a degree and after the first year realised that it was a bit heavy for me, I was in the process of swapping to a different course and heard about an office post coming up. The offices are over the road from the bike shop I used to work in part time. I thought I’d apply and see how the job was, with uni always being a backup. I went in as my boss’s assistant essentially doing all the day-to-day things that he didn’t need to be tied up with. Over time I have just ended up taking on more responsibilities and my job title has morphed along with it.

Rob whilst visiting Continental and on one of his jobs' perks - getting to drive fast cars around tracks. Photo © Laurence Crossman-Emms.
Rob whilst visiting Continental and on one of his jobs’ perks – getting to drive fast cars around tracks ‘testing tyres’.
Photo © Laurence Crossman-Emms.
What do you do day-to-day?

I can have an extremely varied day, which always revolves around driving and a lot of emails! One of my key roles is to visit bike shops to provide staff training, leave P.O.S. and generally keep our customers up to date with our product.

I also handle a lot of the MTB marketing in terms of team/rider contact, making sure they have the right product to go and do well at races. I also sort all the MTB magazine requests out, samples for test, or bringing them cake!

Did you always want to work in the bike industry or did you just fall into it?

I guess it just happened due to situation, I was never one of these people who had a plan for school, then uni, then a job. I have worked part time in bike shops since I was 16 so I guess it was a natural progression, as well as being in the right place at the right time. It always makes a job easier when you have a passion for what you are doing.

It sounds a bit crass, but is it a ‘dream job’?

I’d be lying if I said it was my dream job, because that would be being paid to ride my bike! But, saying that, I’m very grateful to have a job that I enjoy. I get to talk to likeminded people on a daily basis about the sport I love.

I think a lot of people outside of the industry think we sit around all day drinking coffee planning where to go riding next [BM note: what, is that not how it works outside of our office?]. At the end of the day it’s still a job where you have targets to hit and long hours to work. I spend a lot of my weekends standing in a field under an easy-up watching other people ride their bikes. It’s the fun things we get to do that differentiate our jobs from a ‘normal’ job.

Are there any perks to the job? Need I ask?

Of course, getting to hang out with cool people, visit new places, and cheap bike bits. All awesome!

OTHER STUFF How often do you ride?

Not enough!

How often do you change your tyres?

I have a set that I’ll run most places, but I will change if it’s very muddy or very dry. It would be amazing to have a load of wheels set up with different tyres so I could just slot them in to the bike, but I don’t.

You’ve done a lot of racing in the past, what will you be doing this year? 

I’ll be having a crack at the UK Gravity Enduros, I would love to get out to Europe to do a Super Enduro, we’ll see if there’s time. A lot of the races I do I’m also working at them as well, it is nice to talk shop with someone on a climb rather than over the phone.

Best/favourite place to ride?

I love riding at Bringewood, especially the bomb-hole track, so much fun. I also love Rheola, scary fast track. All the secret trails around Fort William are awesome, a real challenge to ride quickly. I missed out on a ride in Slovenia with a busted collarbone/shoulder a few years back, the trails look unreal there.

Anything you’d like to add?

A bill is on the way for a new clutch in the TT RS ;-)*

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who helps out with my team. All the guys at Orange, Dan at Windwave, Aaron at Fox Europe, Brodie at Shimano, Ian at Renthal, Mark at Mavic, Rach at Hope and Owen at Slik Graphics. And last but not least all the top folk at Continental!

Thanks for the interview Rob.

*This is a story in itself. Bike Magic must thank Continental for their hospitality and for teaching us all about safe driving…

Find out more about Cambrian Tyres here and Continental bike tyres here.

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